Pope Benedict XVI has become embroiled in new revelations over child sexual abuse, over a letter he is said to have signed in 1985 before he became Pope.
Associated Press (AP) said it had obtained the letter to Oakland Bishop John S Cummins, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, resisting the defrocking of an offending priest.
The following is a translation of the letter, from its original Latin, to English, provided by AP.
The Vatican has reportedly confirmed Cardinal Ratzinger's signature
Most Excellent Bishop
Having received your letter of September 13 of this year, regarding the matter of the removal from all priestly burdens pertaining to Rev Stephen Miller Kiesle in your diocese, it is my duty to share with you the following:
This court, although it regards the arguments presented in favour of removal in this case to be of grave significance, nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the good of the Universal Church together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ's faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner.
It is necessary for this Congregation to submit incidents of this sort to very careful consideration, which necessitates a longer period of time.
In the meantime your Excellency must not fail to provide the petitioner with as much paternal care as possible and in addition to explain to same the rationale of this court, which is accustomed to proceed keeping the common good especially before its eyes.
Let me take this occasion to convey sentiments of the highest regard always to you.
Your most Reverend Excellency
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger